It’s Playoff Time for Winnipeg

WINNIPEG, MB. – The Winnipeg Goldeyes are playing their best baseball of the season heading into the playoffs.

On Friday night in front of 4,425 at Shaw Park, the playoff-bound Goldeyes got another superb pitching performance from Kevin McGovern and a two-run home run from the American Association’s leading hitter, Shawn Pleffner, as Winnipeg shutout the visiting Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 5-0.

Thanks to McGovern and the hitless relief work of Mitchell Lambson and Ryan Chaffee, the Goldeyes recorded their third straight shutout – opponents have not scored a run against Winnipeg in the last 28 innings. It’s the second time in franchise history the Fish have fired three shutouts in succession.

McGovern (13-3, 2.56 ERA), clearly the best pitcher in the league this year, went seven complete innings and allowed no runs on six scattered hits. It was a sensational season for McGovern who will finish the year with 13 wins and an ERA below 3.00. The 13 wins ties Rafael Gross (2003) for second on the Goldeyes’ single-season list and with 118 strikeouts on the year, McGovern also passes Jeff Keppen (2000) for fifth. McGovern’s 125 strikeouts in 2016 rank third on the same list.

Thanks to the incredible seasons put up by McGovern and the two other 10-game winners, Charle Rosario and Mikey O’Brien, the Goldeyes reached the playoffs for the 19th time in the 24-year history of the franchise. On Thursday, they clinched their third North Division crown since joining the American Association in 2011.

With Frida’s win, the Goldeyes won their seventh straight game and improved to 61-36 (25 games above .500 for the first time this year). Winnipeg will face either Fargo or the Lincoln Saltdogs in the opening best-of-five playoff series which begins on the road on Wednesday. This was the Goldeyes’ 61st of the season – the second-highest total in team history and two shy of the franchise record of 63 set in 2014.

With McGovern dealing, the Goldeyes got the eventual winning run in the first when Casey Turgeon led off with a single, took second on a wild pitch, and scored on a double from Pleffner.

With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Tanner DeVinny, who was hitting .043 at the time, battled back back from an 0-2 count and hit his first career home run to make it 2-0. Turgeon followed with another single up the middle, and the Goldeyes stretched the lead to 4-0 two batters later when Pleffner hit his 10th home run of the year to straightaway centre.

The Goldeyes added their fifth run in the eighth when Reggie Abercrombie singled home DeVinny.

The Goldeyes outhit Fargo 14-6. Pleffner went three-for-four with a run scored and three RBI and raised his league-leading batting average to .344. Turgeon (.300), Abercrombie (.276) and Wes Darvill (.312) each had two hits for Winnipeg.

Game 2 of this season-ending four-game series between the Fish and RedHawks will go Saturday evening at 6:05 p.m. Mikey O’Brien (10-4, 4.55 ERA) will get the start for Winnipeg while left-hander Tyler Alexander (7-6, 2.13 ERA) will toe the rubber for Fargo.

Scott Taylor, MyToba News

Photo by Dan LeMoal

Editor of the popular Game On Hockey Magazine and The Point After Football Magazine, editor of Canadian Meat Business Magazine, sports editor of Grassroots News, TV play-by-play voice of the Winnipeg Goldeyes and author of the bestselling book: The Winnipeg Jets: A Celebration of Professional Hockey in Winnipeg. He likes virgin pina coladas, long walks on the beach, puppies and thoroughbred race horses that run according to form.
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